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What would Jesus Tweet?

“Your words were a blessing.”

It may have been the timing or the delivery or the situation, I don’t know. They were just words, my words, on a card or letter. Not flowery or lovely or well-heeled, but offered sincerely whenever I felt the nudge to write. After I had heard this blessing-thing from a few people, I began to wonder… If my words were received as a blessing, then God was in that. I owed it to God to become the best writer I could.

I signed up for one online course and then another, attended workshops and went to conferences, formed a writers group and began blogging. I had, for years, written regularly in my journals, but this new writing was different. It was public. Out there to be critiqued, challenged, berated and/or celebrated. No controlling what other people say once you punch that send button.

But sending out was exactly what I needed. Being at the mercy of public opinion, especially honest and trusted opinion, required me to risk. Risk spurred me to write well, or at least as well as I could, and then to receive what came back and give it its proper due.

Fit2Finish coverThis week, I held in my hands the very first copy of my very first book. Congratulations and well-wishes abound, celebrating my accomplishment. And it is. The work of a whole career and the lessons of a lifetime have shaped that book. It’s tempting to be proud. Proud of the work, proud of the success, proud of the adulation. Why not take a bow?

But from the pinnacle it is easy to lose one’s balance. Shouting from the mountaintops “I published a book!!!!” would echo from canyon to canyon. What a great symphony that would be! And that’s what the book-people tell you to do. Establish a platform and get it out on social media. Post it to Facebook; share it on Linked In; tweet it from the mountaintop!

But we’re not meant to build on the mountaintop. Peter got laughed off the Mount of Transfiguration for offering to build three tabernacles. How silly we are to think of making our permanent residence here.

Still, why didn’t Jesus make a bit more noise from the mountaintop? I mean, think about the distance those teachings would travel and the multitudes who would hear. What a splash He could have made on Twitter! But that wasn’t His way. When He was surrounded by many He shoved off in a boat to address the crowd. Why use a boat when you can walk on water?!! Because He didn’t want that kind of attention.

Recently, Cara, the young daughter of a dear friend convicted me in this. Cara is 5 years old, I think. Her mom was telling me how Cara had stopped the swimming instructor before her turn to swim from the wall because, first, she had to pray.

“He tells me to pray to him, so I do what he tells me,” Cara says, then repeats the swim lesson prayer for me: “Dear God, thank you for soccer camp and swim lessons. Amen.”

“What does God sound like?” I have to ask. I mean, how can I pass up an opportunity to question an eye witness?

She cocks her head and thinks for a minute, remembering. “He’s quiet, kind of whispering to me,” she says.

“Why do you think He’s so quiet?”

“If he was loud, everybody would look and shout and point…” she explains, matter-of-factly. An older child would have added, “duh,” but older children don’t seem to hear quite so clearly.

I was immediately dumb-struck. What this child was telling me made perfect sense. God speaks in whispers in order NOT to draw attention to Himself. Of course He does, because God is perfect in everything, including humility. Perfectly humble.

There is no pride there. No shouting from the mountaintop, even though His message is the most important of all time, essential for every single soul to hear. He leaves its expression to us to unfold in our lives and our conversations because that’s where it takes on new life.

Fit2Finish: Keeping Soccer Players in the Game is the title of my new book. I have tweeted and Face-booked and will invite my email contacts to opt in to the newsletter to find out more. That’s the way things get done on the mountaintop. But in the valley I expect the real message will get conveyed person to person in quiet whispers, friendly conversations, and a team talk or two.

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On the Way

When Paul was flattened by a light and a voice on the road to Damascus, he listened. And in that moment, the world changed.

Do we have a moment to stop, look and listen?

This is the question I hear people around me chastising themselves with regularly. I really “should” find time to …. exercise, eat right, play with the kids, finish that manuscript (ahem), call my parents, volunteer, visit relatives, pray … And then there is Nike, so very helpfully, telling us “Just Do It.”  But we don’t and we don’t like this about ourselves, which spins us down into the ‘don’t like’ cycle.

This is why I love the Kinesthetic approach. (I think Paul was a Kinesthetic Jew.) He was, in fact, on the way to just doing it when that voice got his attention. He wasn’t knelt in prayer or fasting or attending a service, he was on the move.

And that’s how I see us even now. Moving, albeit at warp speed. Frankly, if I stop, I get dizzy watching everyone else whiz by. Then I’m tempted to run and catch up. But that’s where I go wrong. Acceleration sets me spinning. What I need is to keep the same speed. To coast, as it were. To do and be about my doing at God’s pace, but keeping an eye and an ear out for God-speak. For that light and that voice.

Stopping gets me all unraveled. Then I have to build up momentum again. Moving, especially moving along a familiar road – driving my kid to school, running the neighborhood, sketching in my journal, walking the dog, shooting hoops, hitting putts or range balls, even eating lunch all by myself at the table – all these things engage the rest of me so my eyes and ears and those wonderful inner circuits can have a conversation.

I never know what I’ll discover there, but it’s always enlightening. It changes me.

Coincidentally, I am just completing my listening to an online course on marketing. I have never been trained in these principles. It’s no wonder that Fit2Finish (my small business) has remained small and unknown, given my ignorance. The final lecture discusses ways to appeal to your market. One way is the personal appeal called the testimonial. It is used in cases when “consumption is uncertain,” it says, when you can’t know whether the product works until you try it. The “Try this because look what it’s done for me!” appeal.

Funny, I guess I have been a marketing major all along. Thanks for joining me along the way.

Do our brains grow toward what we choose?

Our brains our changing. At least mine is. It has to, in order to keep up with the constant influx of information, sensory input, and data. To analyze it properly and make the right decision. I read and process information differently. My brain is adapting, as a  survival strategy.

I’m not sure what that means, exactly. But, it seems, based on information provided by the new technology of brain study that we may actually be laying down new neural pathways, repairing some and pruning away others, all the time. In the “old days” – which by scientific standards was only 15 years ago – we didn’t think so. We thought that the brain’s circuitry, at least after a period of pruning from “excess” neurons that happened early in our lives, was fixed and unchangeable. After this, we had to live with whatever we had left. (Thus, the significant concern for some of us who were “killing off brain cells” with our brain-altering recreation.)

But what if our brain’s structure continues to adapt and grow in response to our thinking? What if we actually grow brain pathways toward what we are thinking about. More pathways to the frequent thoughts. More scattered pathways if we head in lots of directions.

This isn’t so far-fetched.  Exercise and its increases to brain blood flow apparently result in enhancement of executive processing function and stimulate the production of brain growth factors. Do these repair nerves? grow them? re-route them?

This is exciting…and dangerous. It means that our brains are more like the rest of our bodies than we thought. The “use it or lose it” threat we address to our bodies may apply to our minds as well. Which means the things we focus on, that we learn and pattern and practice, are enhanced. The neural highways to (and from) those places are firmed up, bolstered, paved in concrete and there to stay. Pathways to those things we dismiss or fail to attend to would shrivel, get grown over, fall to disrepair and die.

What if our thoughts and actions actually act as our own pruning mechanism? A self-fulfilling brain circuitry. This sounds pretty good if we’re rightly directed. But, if we give into temptation or satisfy our pleasure center at the expense of other things, those pathways will be the ones enhanced. And, the highways to them will become easier to travel. The more connections we make, the more likely we re-visit.

Could addiction happen just this way? Can temptation that leads to sin be this simple? At some point is an “urge” truly irresistible?

No wonder God wants us focusing on Him. Because the world is full of distraction that tempts us away. Marketing and media and online ads flash to get our attention. Do we click – harmlessly, just to see?

During Advent I have downloaded a Christmas devotional playlist on Spotify, the free version because I have not paid extra for the “ads free” version. Today I play “Make Me A Servant”… and in the margin of my computer screen scroll a line of attractive men, the faces are photos like we used to take in the photo booths, one on top of the other, with a different expression on each. Though my ears hear…make me a servant today…my eyes see the message that pops up, “Do you want a boyfriend in Herndon?” All I have to do is click on the age group I prefer. Even in our devotion, Satan lurks.

To protect my brain from engaging the images I close my computer screen and focus on the listening. The Maranatha Singers sing…

Make me a servant, humble and meek

Lord, let me lift up, those who are weak.

And may the pray’r of my heart always be;

Make me a servant, make me a servant,

Make me a servant, today.

This is what I seek, but the world would draw me away.

Is the attraction and the paving and the same with you, Lord? Does the pathway to you grow stronger when I pray? Is making a way in the wilderness of our minds something we are meant to live? The more we seek and the more we search and the more we attend to things as you intend them, can we discover, uncover and lay down our way to You?

Are we otherwise, in fact, shaping our own brains according to our own will, own ways in our own circumstances, based on our own choices?

Let me choose You! And keep choosing you. Until the way to you is the only way I see.

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